Sunday, May 5, 2013

Consumers, socio-economic factors, and their perceptions on medical travel

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Steven Lash, president and CEO of Satori World Medical, previously mentioned in an interview on Money Matters that further growth is expected in the medical travel industry now that more people than ever are expected to consider traveling overseas for medical treatment. However, for some, the thought of going outside the US for medical treatment seems ludicrous. The advertised low medical costs may be enticing, but many still wonder if that is enough reason to travel miles away from home for treatment.

A recently published study, ‘A Survey of Consumers’ Perceptions Toward Medical Tourism,’ attempts to shed some light on the issue. The study, conducted by Lydia Gan and James Frederick in six locations in North Carolina in 2010, tested several hypotheses on what motivates American consumers to travel abroad for medical treatment.

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The findings of the study showed that members of the population belonging to the low-income and uninsured consumers were more likely to be affected by risk-related factors in medical travel than the middle- to high- income groups, and the well-insured consumers. This means that uninsured consumers and those in lower income brackets are more likely to check for international accreditation and affiliations of the overseas health institutions with US hospitals. The lower cost is still an important factor but some consumers would like more proof that they’re going to get the right treatment for their condition in spite of the fact that they paid less for it.

The survey also revealed that older and married people were more motivated by social-related factors than young adults and unmarried individuals when considering their options for treatment. Additionally, social-related factors also become less of a motivator the more an individual is proficient in a foreign language.

Indeed, medical travel is not for everyone. Many patients still prefer going to local hospitals for their medical needs. Others, however, understand that there are many hospitals and doctors outside the country that offer high-quality care at a lower cost.

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Find out more about what motivates people to travel outside the country for medical treatment on

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